Properties of open-cell porous metals and alloys for orthopaedic applications


One shortcoming of metals and alloys used to fabricate various components of orthopaedic systems, such as the femoral stem of a total hip joint replacement and the tibial plate of a total knee joint replacement, is well-recognized. This is that the material modulus of elasticity (E′) is substantially larger than that of the contiguous cancellous bone, a consequence of which is stress shielding which, in turn, has been postulated to be implicated in a cascade of events that culminates in the principal life-limiting phenomenon of these systems, namely, aseptic loosening. Thus, over the years, a host of research programs have focused on the synthesis of metallic biomaterials whose E′ can be tailored to match that of cancellous bone. The present work is a review of the extant large volume of literature on these materials, which are called open-cell porous metals/alloys (or, sometimes, metal foams or cellular materials). As such, its range is wide, covering myriad aspects such as production methods, characterization studies, in vitro evaluations, and in vivo performance. The review also includes discussion of seven areas for future research, such as parametric studies of the influence of an assortment of process variables (such as the space holder material and the laser power in the space holder method and the laser-engineered net-shaping process, respectively) on various properties (notably, permeability, fatigue strength, and corrosion resistance) of a given porous metal/alloy, innovative methods of determining fatigue strength, and modeling of corrosion behavior. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Publication Title

Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine